The government plans to take legal action against e-commerce platform Evaly and nine other such organizations for their involvement in financial irregularities.
"The expert committee has recommended the commerce ministry to hand over the issue of Evaly and other such organizations to the home ministry to investigate into their irregularities and take legal action," said additional secretary of the commerce ministry Hafizur Rahman.
In an inspection report submitted to the Commerce Ministry last month, Bangladesh Bank said that Evaly's total liability was Tk407.18 crore.
Briefing journalists after a meeting with the expert committee at his secretariat office, Hafizur Rahman said the expert committee also suggested the commerce ministry to send the names of nine more e-commerce companies to the home ministry after the investigation based on Bangladesh Bank report.
Referring to the lawyer's opinion, he said it is not possible to conduct audit against any private company as the central bank requested the ministry to conduct audit into the 10 e-commerce companies.
"Now the ministry of home affairs will deal with the issue as per the recommendation of the expert committee," he added.
Earlier, Bangladesh Bank has suggested conducting audits separately by appointing separate audit firms in 10 e-commerce companies, including online-based commercial enterprise (e-commerce) Evaly, e-Orange.
The central bank in a letter to the Ministry of Commerce on September 12 made the suggestion saying that it is urgently needed to bring the flourishing e-commerce businesses under regulatory control for checking financial irregularities.
According to BB, these 10 e-commerce firms are Evaly, E-Orange, Alesha Mart, Dhamaka, Sirajganj Shop, Aladdin's Lamp, QCoom, BoomBoom, Adyan Mart and Need.com.bd.
"We've sent a letter to the Ministry of Commerce for conducting audit in the 10 e-commerce platforms because there are widespread allegations of financial irregularities against e-commerce business. It has become urgent to conduct audit to stop financial irregularities," said a BB official.
Earlier on August 24, the Ministry of Commerce had sent a letter to the central bank seeking information about the bank transactions and latest financial situation of nine other institutions besides Evaly. In response to the letter, the central bank sent a letter to the commerce ministry on September 12 advising it to conduct the audit.
On the other hand, Evali has submitted the details of their assets-liabilities to the Ministry of Commerce in three stages.
The Commerce Ministry said in the letter that it was necessary to know the latest financial status of the 10 e-commerce companies, the total amount owed to buyers and merchants and the amount of working and fixed capital.
A number of e-commerce companies are adopting new business strategies. In this new business system, online trade operators collect a few months' advance from buyers and in some cases these companies take longer to deliver the products to the buyers.
In addition, these e-firms often inform buyers that the products they have ordered are out of stock. And so it is not possible to deliver their products as per the scheduled dates. However, there are numerous complaints that buyers do not get their money back if companies fail to deliver the products even after months of waiting.
Bangladesh Bank has recently sent an investigative report to the Ministry of Commerce on high transactions through these unregulated e-commerce firms. It said that these companies have no assets against the advance money collected from the buyers.
Earlier, Bangladesh Bank had prepared a report on Evaly in June following a letter from the Commerce Ministry. As a result, Evaly's current assets amount to Tk 65.17 crore. In contrast, the company's debt stands at Tk 403.70 crore. The company does not have the capacity to repay these debts more than 6 times its assets.
Meanwhile, a case has been filed against the owner of e-Orange for embezzling Tk 1,100 crore last month for not providing goods or refunding money in advance. Among the accused, e-Orange owner Sonia Mehzabin and her husband Masukur Rahman and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Amanullah Chowdhury have been arrested and they are now in jail.